ESTIMATES COMMITTEE B
Friday 22 June 2007
Mrs Smith (Chair)
Hon. Michelle O'Byrne , Minister for Community Development; Minister assisting the Premier on Local Government
Steve Old , Head of Office
Peter Robinson , Adviser
Department of Economic Development
Bob Rutherford , Deputy Secretary, Premier & Cabinet
Lee Prince , Acting Director, Community Development Division
Andrea Ramondino , Finance, Premier & Cabinet
Anna Cooper , Senior Policy Analyst, Community Development Division
Terese Smith , Manager, Seniors' Bureau
Greg Brown , Manager, Office of Aboriginal Affairs
Janet Ong / Clare Wiseman , Manager, Multicultural Tasmania
Rebecca Smith , Manager, Office of Children and Youth Affairs
Wanda Buza , Manager, Women Tasmania
Beverley Funnell , Manager, Disability Bureau
Paddy Johnson , Corporate Support
Local Government Office
Alastair Scott , Director, Local Government
Margaret Sing , Director, Partnership Agreements
Sport and Recreation Tasmania
Elizabeth Jack , Director, Sport & Recreation Tasmania
Mr FINCH- We have talked about the importance of walking tracks and how people are getting more into walking than most other activities, so I am just wondering whether Sport and Recreation have a policy in respect of the trails and the facilities that are provided for people to safely get involved in walking through Tasmania.
Ms O'BYRNE - I must say I was not expecting this question to come from you, although I was expecting to hear about it today.
Mrs RATTRAY-WAGNER - Mr Finch we could discuss that over a cup of tea. I have a couple of initiatives in my area if you are interested.
Ms O'BYRNE - Obviously one of the things that we are keen on is having good planning and development in sustaining physical active life in Tasmania and given that so many people are now walking, we want to ensure that we have a trail strategy that provides really good opportunities for that.
Trails are an essential part of our lifestyle. They are not only for Tasmanians, the people who live here, but for those who come and visit the State as well. They are a key part of a visitor experience as well. They generate economic benefits for local economies with improved health and wellbeing outcomes so potentially reducing the impact on the health system which we would encourage as well. As participation in the trail activities increased, so have the demands on government to provide more high-quality trails and ones that offer a whole range of experiences. We have an international reputation as a walking destination and there is an opportunity to enhance it.
Sport and Recreation is currently leading the development of a whole-of-government strategy for recreational trails in Tasmania, in association with the Parks and Wildlife Service, Tourism Tasmania, Forestry Tasmania and Hydro Tasmania. This involves consultation with all key stakeholders. It is focused on a multi-use strategy, looking at a variety of non-motorised activities - bushwalking, walking, cycling, mountain biking, horse riding, running, pram walking, canoeing and scuba diving. The idea is that the strategy will provide a vision and framework for a coordinated development, management and promotion of the trails network in Tasmania and it will also guide future government decision-making for resource allocation for recreational trails in the State. With some of these trails there are issues around private property access that will need to be resolved, and I mentioned that in light of Mrs Jamieson being at the table. Any plans for development are linked in with the Tasmanian Trails strategy.
We have a project outline for the Tasmanian trails and a discussion paper response form that I am happy to table because some members may be interested in looking at what we are developing. Part of it is to make sure that, if we say to somebody, 'Here is a walking track that you will be able to manage', they know exactly what type of experience they are going to have. They need to know whether a track is appropriate for horse, bushwalkers, kids or even prams. We need to ensure that our strategy will fully inform people about the types of experiences on offer because the most important thing is to meet expectations. This process requires some planning.
Mr FINCH - If somebody phones Sport and Recreation for advice on a track or a trail or a shared walkway that might be a bikeway as well, is there a policy in place that will make suggestions about what is required in the construction of that trail?
Ms JACK - That is exactly why we are developing this strategy because at the moment we do not have a policy. But we believe that there needs to be something that is available so we can discuss development of new trails, changes to existing trails and tracks and classifications of trails and tracks. So far we have had some quite broad consultation with the general public and interested parties through forums held around the State. Whatever they are, we need to be able to advise people, organisations or councils, thinking of developing a trail, about the issues to consider and what must be done to keep that track or trail sustainable. If they already have something that is not up to standard, we can advise them about how to retro-fit or change it to make it more accessible. We also want to be able to classify tracks so people will know what conditions to expect.
After broad consultation we have put on our web site a discussion paper which has a survey response form and that has been tabled by the minister. Anybody can respond to this discussion paper which covers some of the issues raised through these discussion groups and potential solutions. As the minister said, we are working with Parks and Wildlife, Hydro Tasmania and Tourism Tasmania because, although we are taking the lead, it does cut across a large number of agencies.
Mr FINCH - Have those guidelines been finalised?
Ms JACK - No. It is still possible for people to provide input. I am not quite sure about the cut-off date, but I think there is about another month for input. Then that will be collated and some form of strategy developed.
Mr FINCH - Thank you.
CHAIR - Any questions, Mr FINCH, on Women Tasmania?
Mr FINCH - No, I do not have a question on Women Tasmania but I am a bit curious to find out, as far as the minister is concerned, whether there is some thought process in respect of Men Tasmania?
Mrs JAMIESON - I mentioned you earlier.
CHAIR - Let us not get out of order.
Ms O'BYRNE - My super staff would love to meet with you on that subject.
Mr FINCH - I just wanted to reiterate to get some more focus.
CHAIR - I did make the comment earlier that Health have done some substantial work on men's health.
Mr FINCH - Thank you very much.
Ms O'BYRNE - The reality is that there is no intention at this stage to create a ministerial position to advise the Government on men. I could say that men already own the world but we will not go there.
Ms O'BYRNE - The reason for the development of this particular role derives from what we all recognise as historical imbalances that occur in gender relations in areas such as sexual health, domestic violence, partnership of women in our social institutions and in our democratic institutions. I could go on –
CHAIR - Not, we will not. There are no intentions at the moment.
Ms O'BYRNE - But we do fund, and there will be an opportunity for us to talk about it later on, organisations such as Men's Shed, so there is a recognition by the State Government of those issues but there is no intention at this stage to create a minister for men.
CHAIR - As we move on we will probably find the rest of the policy areas cross all sectors. Are there any other questions?
Ms O'BYRNE - I am effectively silenced
MAINLAND USE OF SENIORS CARD
Mr FINCH - There is a question I would like to ask. It is about the Seniors Card. It was somebody who was new to the seniors card operation who was in Melbourne, had a bit of loose change in his pocket and was quite embarrassed when his Seniors Card did not enable him to travel at the rate that he wanted to. Is there any intention to develop a reciprocal entitlement agreement between the States?
Ms O'BYRNE - We provide concessional travel for seniors cardholders from all States and Territories on the same basis that we do with Tasmanian cardholders. There is no formal reciprocal agreement between the States and Territories in relation to public transport concessions. In fact, the majority of others do not provide transport concessions to all seniors cardholders but most do provide them to those who are in the receipt of a Commonwealth Pensioner ConcessionCard. So if your friend had had that, for instance, that would most likely have been accepted.
In order to get a reciprocal transport agreement, we need agreement between every single State. We have given in-principle support to that - we think that would be a fantastic idea - but, as you will see as I go through this, there are some reasons others might not think that.
A reciprocal transport agreement has not received support of the larger States, particularly New South Wales and Victoria, and that is why the reciprocal agreement negotiations stalled. The only interstate transport services that formally agreed to recognise the Tasmanian Seniors Card are CountryLink and Traveltrain, CountryLink in New South Wales, Traveltrain in Queensland, Darwin bus in the NT and Ausbus in the NT.
The lack of national uniformity has been seen as an anomaly by some cardholders, and particularly self- funded retirees who are often in a difficult position. But those Seniors cardholders who also hold a Pensioner Concession Card generally do get it and that is the anomaly, that many are self-funded retirees.
On 2001-02 the Federal Government, in its budget announcement, said it was going to develop a reciprocal agreement with all States to provide concessions, particularly on public transport. We gave support for that. There were a range of conditions that were put around the proposal. that the funds would be accepted as compensation for the costs associated with the current provision of reciprocal transport concessions for interstate Seniors cardholders in metropolitan areas only and would not imply any extension of the concessions that are currently provided. But the acceptance of the funding offer did not imply the extension of State Government funding support for concessional travel by local or interstate Seniors cardholders on rural bus services and that any extension of the current concession entitlements that is under the scope or the quantum initiated by the Commonwealth would be fully funded by the Australian Government. The larger States, New South Wales and Victoria, declined the offer on the basis that it was going to be too costly for their concession systems, given the assumptions on which the funding offer was based and that the offer was time limited. So it was a specific time limit of funding from the Commonwealth and it was less than it would cost them in order to progress the system. The national agreement did not go through and the Commonwealth withdrew its offer in the 2005-06 budget rather than giving the additional funding that would have resulted in reciprocity.
The National Seniors Association are currently campaigning - and I think campaigning quite strongly - for the Australian Government to introduce travel concessions Australia-wide in this Federal election campaign. This will cost an unknown amount of money unless the Federal Government says they will cover it all the time in order to allow reciprocity which is an issue for the larger States. This is unlikely to happen because, as our population ages, the number of people qualifying for the concession will increase so there is an unknown budget quantum for it. I think that is the biggest stumbling block.
We, in Tasmania, are very supportive but we are a small State and can probably manage the cost structures, whereas New South Wales and Victoria have no idea what amount of money they would need to set aside. Lobby groups are hoping that the Feds will take it on as a Federal Government responsibility to be paid for out of their surplus. As much as I would love to see it happen and I know that it would make a really big difference, I can understand the position of the larger States because the Commonwealth has only allocated limited funding which would run out after a couple of years. It is a good idea, though. If they have the other concession card, they should pull that one out too.
Mr FINCH - I will be using a lot of buses and trams soon.
ABORIGINAL FAMILY VIOLENCE
Mr FINCH- On page 10.34, Providing advice and assistance to the Stolen Generations Assessor regarding the eligibility of applicants, I want to ask a question about the stolen generation issue and whether there is money set aside to look after that process.
Ms O'BYRNE - You must have been out of the room when Mrs Rattray-Wagner asked that question
Mr FINCH - Yes, I do not get to hear what goes on down that end of the table. I am just wondering how much has been spent. Did we cover that?
Ms O'BYRNE - Of the $5 million we will wait until the assessor makes his decisions but DPAC, as we have said, have support and structures around the process of the Stolen Generations office.
Mr FINCH - Thank you, I will check the Hansard . Under Major Issues and Initiatives, there is a reference to providing advice and help to address Aboriginal family violence. We know this is a big issue in northern Tasmania, we have been hearing in the news in the last couple of days.
Ms O'BYRNE - Northern Territory.
Mr FINCH - In the Northern Territory, yes, but I would assume that that is not the case in Tasmania and can you give us some idea how bad the problem is here and is family violence in Aboriginal homes any worse than in non-Aboriginal homes?
Ms O'BYRNE - I have to take a bit of time with this one, Chair, to do it appropriately, if that is okay?
Obviously, the issue of violence in Aboriginal communities is not a new issue; it has not suddenly appeared on the agenda. In fact, it has been raised as a national issue for over a decade, which makes me a little surprised to see this sudden realisation in the last few months. In early 2000 a women's group presented to the Ministerial Council for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs and it was then that the CATSIA recognised a national effort was required.
In the days of ATSIC the national round table on violence was held which called for a national effort and the recent violence summit in 2006 that Minister Brough convened also sought to ensure that it was a national priority and I attended that summit on violence in families.
It is a significant problem within the Tasmanian Aboriginal community. It is recognised as being a problem within the Tasmanian Aboriginal community, although it is much less visible than what we see in remote communities around Australia. Our emphasis has been on addressing the underlying causes of social dislocation - the things that make it harder for a community and lead to those sorts of despair and unhappiness that can often lead to family violence. We do that in a number of ways. Obviously land hand-back and stolen generation reparation are parts of those. We believe that enhancing a sense of cultural identity will grow confidence with the Aboriginal community and that is going to help break the cycle of disadvantage that often leads to violence. Obviously we do that through Safe at Home which is a whole-community family violence initiative and the three programs that we have specifically done in the Aboriginal community which is ya pulingina kani, the Good to See You report which we just tabled, Safe at Home and the COAG trial.
Ya pulingina kani's job is to identify ways in which the Aboriginal community itself can see ways to reduce levels of family violence. Safe at Home is a universal program that makes clear the reality that you should be safe in your home. We are working with ya pulingina kani through Safe at Home to do appropriate responses for Aboriginal communities within that and that is obviously in light of such issues as Aboriginal deaths in custody because Safe at Home is obviously a pro-arrest strategy. We have a dedicated Aboriginal court support officer who assists family violence victims. Because Safe at Home is essentially punitive - that is what it is about and it is after the fact - DPAC is actually working with other State and Commonwealth agencies and other Aboriginal communities to better integrate the COAG trial, ya pulingina, and Safe at Home to improve Aboriginal services to those experiencing violence in the Aboriginal community.
The COAG trial has been in progress for almost four years. That is helping us work with the State to identify issues. There has been a trial in the north-east that you would be aware of, Mr Finch. In 2006 the Intergovernmental Summit on Violence and Child Abuse in Iindigenous Ccommunities focused on law and order rather than the underlying factors leading to violence and child abuse. At the summit the Commonwealth expressed a particular concern about customary law and customary law being used as a mitigation for violence. We have no statutory references to customary law and the only references we have to cultural background in dealing with offenders are those that currently exist within the Youth Justice Act, so that is not an issue in Tasmania.
From the summit COAG agreed to adopt a collaborative approach to addressing particular issues of policing, justice support and governance. The key to that is obviously bilateral agreements between Commonwealth and State governments. We are yet to formalise a bilateral agreement with the Commonwealth mainly because we are progressing the COAG trial, ya pulingina kani and Safe at Home. In terms of the Federal Government announcement yesterday which leads from the report of abuse in communities that was released 10 days ago, we do not have any detail yet other than what we have seen in the media. It has been developed and announced without consultation. It is clearly directed at a particular set of circumstances in remote and isolated bush communities in the Northern Territory where the Commonwealth obviously has relevant head of powers.
I am aware that in order for the Federal Government to progress those initiatives they actually have a lot of legislative work to do. They are a long way at this stage from actually implementing any of things that they have announced in the media. They have said they have done an immediate response. I think they have done an immediate announcement and we shall see the effects of the response soon. We are seeking further information from the Prime Minister's office about what they are intending and how it will impact and as soon as we have that we will be able to provide some kind of formal comment on it. But at this stage we are, as most are, responding to what is in the media. In Tasmania the police maintain the data on family violence and any inquiry about statistics of family violence should be directed to the Police minister so I cannot give you anything more than that there is an acceptance that there are high levels of violence in Aboriginal communities.
CHAIR - Thank you. We will move to multicultural affairs
6.5 Multicultural Tasmania - policy advice and community services –
Mr FINCH - There is a list of issues and initiatives on settling humanitarian entrants in Tasmania –
Ms O'BYRNE - Yes.
Mr FINCH - And others. Can you give us an idea on the retention rate of those people? Do any entrants leave Tasmania, perhaps through disillusionment or wanting to go to an area where there might be more people from their own country like in Melbourne or Sydney, in the bigger communities? Do we have figures on the retention rate of those who come here?
Ms O'BYRNE - The reality is, we take a very high number of the humanitarian entrants in Tasmania. Quite often we have taken the most per capita in Australia. We have a welcoming community here and place entrants really well. In 2004-05 we had 339 humanitarian entrants. In 2005-06 we had 317. In 2006-07, to date, we have 225. But that is not an accurate figure because it takes DIAC some time to progress its own figures and get them to us.
Our recent arrivals have come mainly from African countries, Sudan, Sierra Leonie, Ethiopia, Burundi , Somalia and the Congo. Around 60 per cent have settled in and around Hobart and about 40 per cent around Launceston.
We do not have data on whether or not they then move elsewhere. We have some anecdotal evidence to suggest that is the case, often for employment, and I am happy to talk about some of the employment initiatives we are using to deal with that. The reason we do not have the data is that, as with any Australian, they have the right to move wherever they choose.
We have written to the Federal Government to suggest establishing a partnership with them to start dealing with a number of issues around settlement, particularly because there is only support for six months. For some entrants that is fine but for others that is nowhere near fine. We need to provide better strategies. We have not yet had a positive response. We will continue to attempt to progress this initiative because it is becoming a significant issue.
Tasmanian settlement programs include the Sate Government's annual work placement program which we think has been particularly successful. It provides refugees with work experience and exposure to Australian workplace culture. It has recently been included in a national guide the Commonwealth produces, called the Good Practice Guide for Refugee Settlement offering a case study of how to run good settlement programs. We are also represented on a number of working groups examining strategies to improve employment outcomes for humanitarian entrants. I am happy to talk about the different schemes. I am not sure what information you want. We offer a host of different settlement support programs through Multicultural Tasmania.
Mr FINCH - How is the distribution of refugees handled? You said 60 per cent settle in Hobart and 40 per cent in the north of the State.
Ms O'BYRNE - DIAC make the determinations. We make recommendations to them. The key thing is we need community capacity to support them. There are issues such as translating; if we do not have someone who can translate Kirundi living in Launceston it would not be wise to put a Burundian community there. It is one of the reasons that, at this stage, we do not have settlement on the north-west coast; there is not necessarily the infrastructure there to support people. We have established a working group with DIAC to look at providing regional support programs but that has not really advanced too far.
Anecdotally, the main reason people move is job-related, so local employment initiatives are a key factor. If we can help them find employment they tend to stay and participate fully in our community.
Mr FINCH - Are entrants on humanitarian programs encouraged to participate in the TAFE English language courses? Do they have to participate?
Ms O'BYRNE - I will attend a Ministerial Council on Immigration
and Multicultural Affairs in a couple of weeks and one of the issues to be discussed is English language barriers. We encourage people to participate in those courses but it is not mandatory. Also, there is a whole range of different backgrounds people come from; some are well educated, others are illiterate. The school system runs English as a second language programs. We have very high numbers of students attending English language classes at TAFE. In 2006-07 the target was 500 but we had 538 participate in the courses and we are getting good feedback.
Mr FINCH - The figures show a target for this year of a total of 900 migrants which is well down on 2004-05. Given our skills shortage, is that enough or are there opportunities for us to encourage more migrants here to train in trade skills and be more effective in our community?
Ms O'BYRNE - The two areas that we need to separate are humanitarian entrants who require lot of support and skilled overseas workers. In 2004-05, we took 518 skilled workers - these are primary applicants only, not spouses, et cetera. In 2005-06, there were 487 and year to date 292. Once again, it is hard to get a real figure because it takes DIAC ages because it is a Commonwealth agency. In reality, total migration numbers associated with the skilled stream are significantly higher as the figures we get only account for the primary applicants, not including family members and dependants. Often family members have skills that we can use. In addition, these figures only represent skilled overseas migrants who have been approved for permanent residency and do not include temporary skilled migration.
We have a whole host of different types of schemes for migrants with which we work. There are the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme, temporary business visas which attracted 457 migrants, trade skills training visas, State and Territory nominated independent schemes, State independent regional schemes and the business migration program.
Mr FINCH - I am curious about those settlement programs being implemented particularly for African people. How does the Government feel? How does your department feel about the progress that they are making in respect of assimilation
Ms O'BYRNE - In terms of humanitarian entrants?
Mr FINCH - Yes - into our community? I am trying to flesh out concerns there might be in their establishing themselves here.
Ms O'BYRNE - That is one of the key reasons for wanting to establish a partnership with the Federal Government to deal with some of the things because settlement support from the Federal Government lasts for six months. As I said, that might be fine and for some but it is not always fine. The main issues that we want to discuss with the Federal Government are to do with employment. We hear that a number of humanitarian entrants leave because they cannot find appropriate employment. Finding a job gives them an opportunity not only to settle but to learn better English, to integrate better with the community, et cetera.
Housing is provided on arrival for the initial period but it is very hard for these families to find affordable appropriate housing thereafter. Part of that is because they often have very large families and tend not to build houses with many bedrooms.
New entrants have diverse and complex health needs. Some of them have come from living in camps for many years. Health does some very good health programs for refuge in the south. The Migrant Resource Centre in Launceston has just entered a partnership to improve health in the health assessment in the north. There are language barriers, as I said; they may be illiterate in their own language. We also might not have the translators currently here and that is an issue that we continually try to raise with the Feds and with DIAC to make sure that when they do send people here they are people that we can support, that we have infrastructure around.
Bob has just raised a really important issue. There are a lot of cultural sensitivities to deal with as well. Women visiting male GPs for instance, can be a significant barrier. In Launceston there is actually a really good program. It is a trial and I am really hoping it works well; they are getting their first three health appointments which deal with making sure that they are getting their appropriate immunisation and appropriate health information. Also a case history is built up, because with the huge shortage of GPs - not that I am blaming the Federal Government again - they are not taking on new clients. One of the major barriers to taking on a new client is the fact that they do not have a medical health history, so this process is a cooperative with GP North to ensure that medical health histories are done in those three so that they can get into doctors. So there are those sorts of support issues as well.
Mr FINCH - Were you saying they get three free visits?
Ms O'BYRNE - Yes. They get the three visits that give them their full immunisation. When they come in the Federal Government takes care of, I think, it is a TB check and an HIV check and I am pretty sure there are a couple of other things. What they are saying in the Launceston program is that we will give you three visits that cover your three - your proper health plan to get you up to where you should be health-wise and deal with a number of issues that may have come out of living in a camp for some time as well.
Mr FINCH - Does the Federal Government pay for that or GP North?
Ms O'BYRNE - It is a Health - what they are allowing them to do is put it as a Medicare item; I cannot remember the name of the item that allows them to write it off. GP North and Health have negotiated it. It is a really good model and I think if it works, it might be picked up in other areas. It is run out of Multicultural Tas in Launceston, which allows them to monitor in an appropriate and less threatening environment.
I keep saying Multicultural Tas; it is the MRC in Cameron Street. The other sort of things that we do at Multicultural Tas is we provide cross-cultural sensitivities training because that is a key thing for people to understand and create relationships. We do it for public servants, government organisations, community organisations, schools, health workers. There is the multicultural grants program so we can actually foster some events that promote multiculturalism. Like the multicultural soccer game that we held with the Aboriginal community - sorry, the African community in Launceston was part of that.
Mr FINCH - Harmony Day.
Ms O'BYRNE - Harmony Day is a very big part of it; a great program. We fund things like Multicultural Tasmania and TACMA and the Wall of Friendship. We have a multicultural liaison officers' network so all around government we are training people with multicultural liaison skills. The work placement program, Sportivale, which was a great program down south organised by one of our members of the African community.
We are doing a whole host of things on our level but it is not necessarily an easy group of people to work with; they have complex issues from their background and we want to work with the Federal Government more on it. In most years we are taking above any other State per capita of humanitarian refugees and it is a good thing for us to do and I think it is making us a very vibrant community, but if we want to provide the support for them we need to have a better partnership with the Feds.
6.6 Children and Youth Affairs -policy advice and community services –
Mr FINCH – Is Tasmania's Early Childhood and Child Care Action Plan a fait accompli? Is it operating now, is it functioning?
Ms O'BYRNE - You do not mean the Early Years Foundation, the whole-of-government action plan?
Mr FINCH - Early Childhood and Child Care Action Plan.?
Ms O'BYRNE - That is actually a COAG thing. From my memory it went to COAG but it has not actually been ticked off entirely. It was not supported by the Federal Government at that stage. It was not supported by the Federal Government but it is still on the agenda for COAG and the States will pursue it.
Mr FINCH - Thank you. The local government youth forum and the Tasmanian youth forum are, I suppose, welcome counters to children should be seen and not heard.
Ms O'BYRNE - If that was your parenting policy with the boys, Mr Finch, you failed significantly.
Mr FINCH - In my opinion, we probably do not hear enough from the youth forums and the feedback back to the community about what they are thinking. I would like to think that they are working well enough, but we tend to not hear as much as I think we could about what the young people are thinking and saying and the issues that they are generating.
Ms O'BYRNE - I am going to respond to that one, but I cannot do it without also touching on a whole host of other mechanisms that we employ to hear the voices of young people. Personally, it is one of the things where there is a really good synergy within my role because I have this area of community development, children and youth affairs and I assist the Premier on local governments. It allows us to work with those common interests and initiatives together. The majority of councils currently have youth advisory mechanisms and youth policies in place to assist them with youth participation. Twenty-five out of 29 councils - 86 per cent - have youth advisory mechanisms; 27 out of 29 have youth policies or strategies, which is 89 per cent. We provide some seed funding to increase youth participation - around $76 000 for youth participation and planning in councils for the development of youth policies and strategies.
The forum has been operating since 1999 and 56 participants attended the seventh annual local government youth forum on Wednesday 4 October at the Tramsheds in Launceston. It was organised with the assistance of the working group comprising youth staff from Derwent Valley, Dorset, Glenorchy City, Hobart City, Huon Valley and Launceston City councils. There was a representative from LGAT and OCYA as well. Twenty-four councils were represented at the forum, as well as YNOT, LGAT and TIC. There is a 2007 forum to be planned in October. We also host an annual survey of local government youth policies, programs and facilities through OCYA, which gives both State and local governments an overview of existing programs and gives us an opportunity to work more with local government. There were some other mechanisms. We have a whole-of-government youth policy framework. You would be aware we are doing some work on youth policy to find ways to underpin the way that State Government involves young people in its policies, programs and services. Because Children have now formed part of my portfolio area, that is a new addition to become the Office of Children and Youth Affairs. We are refining, reviewing and extending the draft youth framework to compensate for that. We have the State of Our Youth Report, which is a triennial report providing an overview of government programs and policies for young people. The 2007 report is very close to completion, I am assured, and that is going to outline not only the process for consultations but also young people's perception as well. OCYA produced a draft consultation paper - and I know that Mrs Jamieson will be interested in this one because it is called 'Want To Know What I Think?' - Views and Perceptions of Young People Living with Disability in Tasmania'. It outlines those issues for young people. That report will be released with the State of Our Youth Report shortly, and I will ensure that you all get copies of it because I know there are a few members here with an interest. Specifically, young people looked for information on current programs and services, identified gaps in program and service provision and future plans and directions for programs and services for young people with disability.
We have developed a handbook encouraging young people to join committees and boards to make that their voice is heard. It is called Let's Get On Board and it is targeting people under the age of 29 years.
CHAIR - I think everybody is jealous.
Ms O'BYRNE - In response to the different types of communication that young people use now, Link has its own web portal managed by Ockyer OCYA which provides access and information. We give money to YNOT and their organisations to hear those voices. I have a view that we are listening very well to young people so I think that we need to develop strategies to combat this rather than assume that they are not making their voices heard. This is important when the media run negative stories about them we all come across amazing young people all the time.
The Young Tasmanian of the Year Award, for instance, showcased a huge depth of wonderful young people doing incredibly sophisticated and amazing things in Tasmania. To foster inclusion and participation within community development and all the areas I represent I aim to create links to encourage people to be part of initiatives.
Mr FINCH - What level of funding and support does your department give the National Youth Week?
Ms O'BYRNE - Through OCYA we contributed $63 500 for the 2007 National Youth Week program. This consisted of $55 000 for the 2007 NYW grants program and $8 500 for market administration. The Australian Government gave us $11 000 towards that. We funded 50 organisations comprising 31 local government and non- government organisations and 19 schools for National Youth Week.
We saw a drop in the rate of participation - which I am sure is where you are going in your next question- and I want to highlight some of the causes for that. One is that in previous years Streets Alive in Launceston attracted a high level of participation as did Centrelink which used to run an event explaining a host of different opportunities for young people during Youth Week. The Commonwealth Government, in their wisdom, decided it was too resource-intensive and the demise of that event led to a drop-off in participation. I am not sure I can blame anybody for this, but it rained during the most recent Youth Week which affected participation rates because so many events required better weather, although nobody complained about the rain.
Mr FINCH - Climate change resolved some of those issues, though.
Mrs RATTRAY-WAGNER - Minister, would you be interested in picking up where the Federal Government has left off?
Ms O'BYRNE - Centrelink have access to resources and information that we cannot necessarily access but any organisation could apply for one of our grant programs in order to facilitate that. I think it may have been only held in the south as well so organisations could apply to us to extend it to other areas. I think that Education also do some work in that area but that means that it does not come into our figures for Youth Week, unfortunately.